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Fan-Demonium: A Silver Lining

Posted Nov 21, 2012

Fan-Demonium

A six-game losing streak? Losing to a mediocre Redskins team by 25 points? These are tough times in Philadelphia. It is hard to believe the Eagles were once 3-1 and only minutes from beating the Steelers to go to 4-1. That one loss has snowballed into an avalanche of losing, misery and bad football. I did not see this coming.

I've seen some Eagles teams struggle over the years. The 1993 team had a six-game losing streak when injuries overwhelmed them. The 1994 team lost the final seven games of the season. The Byron Evans injury had a huge impact on that team. The 1998 Eagles won only three games all year. In 1999, Andy Reid's first year, the team had a pair of four-game losing streaks.

Those teams had significant flaws, significant injuries, or both. The 2012 Eagles are a real head-scratcher to me. I just don't understand this team. Things have not always been smooth in the Reid era. The difference is that when tough times hit, the Eagles used to find a way to overcome them. In 2002, the whole team picked up their play after Donovan McNabb broke his leg.  Without their star quarterback, the Eagles went 5-1 (and the only loss came in overtime).  In 2006, McNabb got hurt again and the team rallied behind Jeff Garcia to win five straight games and steal the division title from the Cowboys and Giants. 

Let's go back and take a look at the 2003 season. The Eagles got off to an 0-2 start and had some rough games. There was an early game against the Giants where Brian Westbrook ran a punt back late in the game to deliver the win. There was a game against the Jets where Correll Buckhalter ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns to help the Eagles win. A few weeks later the Eagles played Green Bay in a rainy Monday night game. Nate Wayne had 12 tackles, a sack and an interception to help the team pull out a tough 17-14 win. Donovan McNabb came alive in the next Giants game and put up great numbers, going 24-of-30 for 314 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Late in the season, there was a Monday night game in Miami where Artis Hicks started at left tackle and kept Jason Taylor under control. The Eagles scored 34 points that night.

Every week some new player seemed to step up and deliver. Some were young players. Some were veterans. That was the Eagles at their best. Everyone chipped in. Everyone did their part. The whole was greater than the sum of the parts, as the old saying goes. The Eagles made big plays on offense, defense and special teams.

The 2012 Eagles are just the opposite. Instead of a different player stepping up each week, a different player seems to make crucial mistakes each week. I don't have a good answer for why. Coach Reid mentioned that players could be trying to do too much. This is definitely possible. Some fans don't understand this idea. A good analogy is when baseball players try to hit home runs with every swing. It causes them to change what they normally do and usually leads to bad results. Don't swing for the fences. Just do your job and good things should happen.

Lawlor

Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.

Rather than sticking with what is wrong with the Eagles, let's talk about a few things that did go right on Sunday. I realize this is like giving a good review to the food on the Titanic, but I think we've all vented about Sunday quite a bit. Why not try to find some silver linings.

* The Eagles had success with the screen game. Andy Reid is great with screen passes, but the last two years have delivered mixed results. Teams have focused on screens and made them very difficult to run. Either Reid or Marty Mornhinweg came up with some twists and they worked. LeSean McCoy had gains of 20 and 25 yards.

* Dennis Kelly got his first start at right tackle and did some good things. He didn't shut down Ryan Kerrigan, but kept him under control. Kerrigan did have a strip-sack, but beat McCoy to get that. Kelly did have one holding penalty.

* Mike Patterson played again and had his best showing of the season. You can see he's got fresh legs. There is some pep in his step. He was credited with three tackles. He got some penetration on pass plays, but wasn't quite fast enough to chase down RG III.

* Jason Babin played his best game in a while. He had a sack. Interestingly, that came when he was at right end. For one series early in the third quarter, he and Cole switched sides. There were a couple of plays when Babin just destroyed right tackle Tyler Polumbus by basically running over him. Babin used a spin move to the inside on one rush and came close to another sack.

* Fletcher Cox led the team with 10 tackles and had a sack as well. He came up big on a few occasions. The Redskins tried to run his direction on a third-and-short play. Cox stuffed that. They ran at him on fourth and short. Cox stuffed that as well. Both times he overpowered the left guard.

* Bryce Brown had five carries for 35 yards. I think this was his best game. He had a 40-yard run down in New Orleans, but that was partially due to bad defense. The runs on Sunday showed real talent. He was very nimble and athletic for such a big back.

* Riley Cooper had five catches for 61 yards. He's played well the last two weeks. He is the Eagles’ biggest receiver and has shown good ability the last couple of weeks.

* Nick Foles did not have the game that any of us hoped for. He looked like a rookie quarterback. For every good play, there was a bad one and a shaky one. Rough day. The lowlight for me was his first quarter interception when he tried to get the ball to DeSean Jackson. Foles forced that ball into coverage. He also had terrible mechanics on the play. Foles was falling away and that led to the ball being high and off target. It was an easy pick for the safety. Foles had a chance to hit Jackson for a touchdown later in the game. Jackson ran a go route and got behind the defense. Foles put the ball too close to the sideline and Jackson wasn't able to catch it inbounds.

Foles did have some good moments. The best play came on third-and-17 when Foles stepped up in the pocket and hit Damaris Johnson over the middle for a gain of 21 yards. That pass required accuracy and zip. Foles put great touch on a pass to Brent Celek down the seam. That netted 22 yards and set up a field goal. There was an early third down pass where Foles seemed to audible at the line. He threw a quick screen to Cooper that went for 15 yards and moved the chains. Good read and adjustment by Foles.

We can't make any definitive judgments on Foles yet. He didn't have a good showing on Sunday, but was hurt by his teammates’ mistakes. Rookie quarterbacks need some help from the good veterans they play with. Hopefully he'll have more starts this year so we can get a better feel for what kind of a player he is.

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